Amateur sleuths hunt for Trump bombshells

Geoff Andersen has worked since November for 16 hours a day, seven days a week, burning through nearly $45,000 in personal savings and donations from friends and family in pursuit of hidden truths about Trump’s rise to power.

Andersen, a freelance Democratic opposition researcher who worked on President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign and is now between jobs, has downloaded thousands of newspaper articles dating from the 1970s, hunted down obscure court and real estate records, and is even reading a textbook on money laundering. He posts his findings on his website, offers tips to reporters and sends a weekly newsletter to about 50 subscribers; one recent installment covered everything from Trump’s 1980s dealings with former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos and the Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi to his belief that Trump’s father “may have been a Soviet asset.”

.. Convinced that major media reporters are too overwhelmed and distracted to dig deep, Andersen looks in unusual places. His recent request for access to a long-forgotten microfiche cabinet containing old Securities and Exchange Commission records related to pre-internet-era Trump casino deals left the librarians scratching their heads.
.. This may sound like the pointless industry of conspiracy theorists, but some legal experts, and history itself, suggest they could make a difference. Among the 15,000 pieces of mail and 6,000 telegrams the Watergate special prosecutor received during his first year on the job, according an official report, an average of three or four “substantial allegations” each month merited a deeper look.

.. “Sometimes they do pan out,” said Nick Akerman, a former assistant Watergate prosecutor who recalled how tipsters helped connect him to important Nixon White House sources. “Some are absolute crackpots, no matter how you cut it.”

.. “People are driven by big stories that have uncertain conclusions,” he said… In her job as managing editor at the myth-busting website Snopes, 40-year old Brooke Binkowski spends her days trying to separate facts from fiction. She cautions against the way some amateur investigators cherry pick facts to reach dubious conclusions

.. his Reddit page has grown into an extensively detailed timeline of the Trump-Russia saga that reflected countless hours of work. (Sample entry: “Starting in 2014, Trump oddly Tweeted Nine Times to Deleted Russian Twitter Accounts About Running for President.”) It now covers more than 40,000 words

.. “I don’t think from the outside perspective looking at it you can trust any of the institutional actors to provide a full and complete reckoning of what the hell is going on,” Andersen said.

The Crackpot Index

A simple method for rating potentially revolutionary contributions to physics:

.. 20 points for every use of science fiction works or myths as if they were fact.

.. 20 points for naming something after yourself. (E.g., talking about the “The Evans Field Equation” when your name happens to be Evans.)

.. 20 points for talking about how great your theory is, but never actually explaining it.

.. 30 points for suggesting that Einstein, in his later years, was groping his way towards the ideas you now advocate.

.. 30 points for allusions to a delay in your work while you spent time in an asylum, or references to the psychiatrist who tried to talk you out of your theory.

.. 40 points for comparing yourself to Galileo, suggesting that a modern-day Inquisition is hard at work on your case, and so on.